Qiu Li grabs brace as Tigers maul woeful Rams

The Singapore international struck twice in the second half following Paul Cunningham's opener to hand his team a well-deserved 3-0 win in their final home game

Balestier Khalsa rounded off their home campaign in style on Wednesday evening when they beat Woodlands Wellington 3-0 in a game they largely dominated from start to finish.

The Rams had run out 2-1 winners the last time both sides met at Toa Payoh Stadium, but this time round they were woeful and could count themselves fortunate not to have lost by more.

It was a scrappy opening from both sides as they struggled to keep possession, but the Tigers went ahead with the first real chance of the game.

From Obadin Aikhena’s header back across goal at a corner, captain Paul Cunningham gleefully swept home the ball from close range to give his team an early lead in the 10th minute.

The hosts moved into the ascendancy after that and could easily have extended their lead 10 minutes later.

Woodlands goalkeeper Nazri Sabri slipped while taking a free-kick and left himself exposed when the ball came back to Qiu Li, but the custodian did well to prevent the forward from rounding him.

The 24-year-old then parried Ruhaizad Ismail’s fierce drive, before doing superbly to block Park Kang Jin’s close range effort.

The Rams were continuing to give the ball away sloppily and only managed their first shot on target on the half hour, with Chang Jo Yoon’s 25-yard snapshot easily held by Zaiful Nizam.

An offside flag denied Ruhaizad after he fired home Park’s lovely threaded pass, before Moon Soon Ho then dragged two attempts wide at the other end.

With Woodlands still struggling against a dominant Balestier, coach Salim Moin brought on Oswind Suriya for the anonymous Theerawekin Seehawong in the 35th minute. That did little to change things, however, as they trailed at the break.

Darren Stewart’s men continued to enjoy the better of the game but couldn’t find the second goal, Hamqamaal Shah miskicking a good cut-back from Qiu before Ruhaizad then failed to convert Park’s cross.

Nazri then did well to deny Qiu again as the China-born forward raced clear, before the same player blasted over from 20 yards following a wild clearance from Rosman Sulaiman.

Qiu appeared to be making it his personal mission to score, forcing Nazri to tip away his free-kick after being brought down by the goalkeeper outside the box.

Zaiful was finally worked by Woodlands near the hour mark as he produced two superb saves to deny first Chang and then Moon, the second stop leaving Moon shaking his head in disbelief.

Those saves would prove crucial as Qiu finally got his goal in the 72nd minute. Racing clear down the left, the 32-year-old drove into the area and neatly slipped his finish underneath Nazri.

Eight minutes later, it was 3-0 and game over when Ahmad Syahir latched on to a long ball on the left and had all the time in the world to set up Qiu for a simple tap-in.

Things went from bad to worse two minutes later when Woodlands captain Shahril Alias was shown a straight red card for fouling Qiu when he was clear on goal.

Nazri was called upon in the dying seconds to parry away Cunningham’s fiercely-struck free-kick from 30 yards, as Balestier had to settle for three goals in the end for victory in their last home game.